We were saddened (and amused, in a guilty kind of way) to read today that English Heritage – the governmental body that decides on the preservation of historically important buildings in the UK – had decided that the birthplace of Ringo Starr isn’t culturally significant enough to preserve. Poor Ringo. He gets a bit of a raw deal, mainly because his musicianship and songwriting abilities both pale in comparison to his famous bandmates. However, the whole thing did get us thinking about comparatively useless members of otherwise decent bands. We round them up after the jump.
Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
Whatever you might think of The Beatles, at least Lennon, McCartney and Harrison were competent musicians and fine songwriters. As for Ringo, well, he was responsible for “Yellow Submarine.” On a brighter note, however, he did do a fine job with his voiceovers on Thomas The Tank Engine.
On joining the nascent Oasis in 1991, Noel Gallagher assumed responsibility for writing all the songs, playing all the solos, devising all the rhythm parts, and generally taking the band to global stardom. Incumbent guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, meanwhile, spent the next eight years collecting a paycheck for staring into space and strumming 4/4 rhythms that added precisely nothing to the band’s sound. Nice work if you can get it.
Bez (The Happy Mondays)
“Every band needs its own special chemistry,” Factory Records chief Tony Wilson once opined, “and Bez was a very good chemist.” That may well be the case, and he certainly brought a certain anarchic appeal to The Happy Mondays’ live shows, but as far as the music goes, Bez was completely and utterly superfluous. Bless him.
Several of the Polyphonic Spree
In a 20-piece band, there are gonna be freeloaders. Fact.
Sid Vicious (The Sex Pistols)
Glen Matlock was a perfectly competent bassist and apparently quite a nice guy who didn’t fit the image that Malcolm McLaren had devised for The Sex Pistols. Sid Vicious was a musically illiterate and sporadically violent junkie whose previous contributions to the world of punk had amounted to attacking journalist Nick Kent with a bicycle chain. So, obviously, sacking the former for the latter was a genius move.
That woman in Arrested Development
The one who repeats every single line in “People Everyday.” Seriously, what was she for?
Jarobi (A Tribe Called Quest)
Further proof that the Native Tongues crew were a bit too inclusive and altruistic for their own good at times. The fact that our old friend Wikipedia says that sometime ATCQ member Jarobi “left the group after their first album but appears to have rejoined since 2006” pretty much says it all – if you can’t even be sure whether someone’s actually in the group or not, you have to question the extent of his contributions.
Joel Gion (The Brian Jonestown Massacre)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s permanently blissed-out tambourine-toting mascot may have been an endearing figure, but at the end of the day, all he did was shake a tambourine and smile a lot. One of the funniest scenes in DiG! is the bit where he’s sent as the band’s representative to sign a major label contract – it says a great deal about the state of the BJM that Gion was deemed the most responsible band member for such duties…
Diamond and Pearl (Prince and the New Power Generation)
Clearly, if you have an album called Diamonds and Pearls, the logical step is to find two women who look similar enough that they might be twins, rename them “Diamond” and “Pearl,” and then pay them to kind of just wander about looking hot. It makes perfect sense. If you’re Prince.
Various Spinäl Täp drummers
“Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It’s just not really widely reported.”